Kronotex expansion to bring 40 positions

Kronotex Flooring LLC announced a $45 million expansion at its Barnwell County plant that will create about 40 positions.

 

The South Carolina Department of Commerce and Kronotex USA said Wednesday that the manufacturing facility would add 225,000 square feet to its plant for a third set of laminating and profiling lines, which will increase production by 60 percent.

The additional space will also house administrative and sales offices.

Kronotex U.S.A. Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the KronoGroup Switzerland, put its U.S. headquarters in Barnwell in 2005. It has about 130 employees.

The additional jobs continue a string of opportunities for Barnwell residents, who are facing the sixth highest unemployment rate in the state.

Last month, Horsehead Corp., a manufacturer of value-added zinc product, invested $87 million in the area and created 65 jobs.

Dixie-Narco, a vending machine manufacturer, announced plans in 2009 to bring 1,000 jobs to the area over seven years, and Dayco, which manufactures auto parts, said it would create about 100 positions in the area from a consolidation.

About 800 residents were affected by three successive plant closures three years ago that left unemployment numbers slow to turn around, said Marty Martin, Barnwell County's economic development director.

The county's unemployment rate crept up from 16.5 percent in June to 16.9 percent at the end of July. Marion County has the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.3 percent.

"It's all been good news this year, but when you lose that many jobs, you can't get them all back at the same time," Martin said.

Martin said the county's high unemployment rate with skilled workers has been attractive to overseas manufacturers looking for U.S. homes.

"We don't have a lot of union activity in South Carolina and we have a fairly strong workforce that's shown loyalty to companies in the past," Martin said.

Kronotex will begin its expansion immediately.

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